Doha, 23 June 2021 - Aspire Academy recently celebrated its 14th graduation with a record 52 student-athletes capped at a ceremony to mark the end of the 2020-21 academic year.
In his address, Aspire Academy Deputy Director-General Ali Salem Afifa commended the resilience, dedication, and mental strength of the graduating student-athletes for overcoming challenges, including the global pandemic.
“Congratulations to you for celebrating an amazing moment in your lives, graduating from Aspire Academy as the 14th batch, the largest batch ever so far in the history of our Academy. You have reached this important day in your long journey while courageously facing an unexpected global health crisis - the coronavirus pandemic. On behalf of all of us at Aspire Academy, I would like to say that we are proud of you and your determination and perseverance to overcome and challenge the difficult moments dictated by this pandemic,” said Afifa.
The 14th graduation batch includes student-athletes across seven sporting disciplines, athletics (14), fencing (2), football (26), referees (4), gymnastics (1), squash (1), table-tennis (1), and shooting (3). It is the highest number of student-athletes to graduate since the first batch in 2008.
Among this year’s graduates is Al Sadd FC and Qatar U-23 Olympic Team’s upcoming goalkeeper, Youssef Abdullah Balideh. Speaking about Aspire Academy, Balideh said: “I wouldn’t have been the athlete I am today if it weren’t for Aspire Academy, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. The Academy plays an important role in developing youth talents in Qatar who aspire to be the best in their chosen field.”
Haitham Oussama Abbassi, another student-athlete, graduated as a youth football referee. Abbasi is one of the referees who developed during his time at Aspire by the Qatar Football Association Refereeing department and was assigned to officiate various matches from U13 to second division Qatar Gas League). He was trained in video technology (VAR) and was assigned to officiate games as a VAR operator.
Speaking after the graduation ceremony, Abbassi said, “There are not enough words one can use to describe the value and importance of Aspire Academy to the youth of this country who want to develop a sporting career. Those of us privileged to have joined and study at Aspire will testify to how this great institution builds and prepares you for a disciplined and focused outlook on life. I am grateful for the way Aspire contributed to building my character, and I learned how to be committed to my tasks, respect time, and the importance of being disciplined in my work. These attributes will serve me well in my Refereeing career and life in general, and for that, I am thankful to Aspire Academy.”
The graduation marks yet another milestone for Aspire Academy. This institution is now recognized as the world’s leading sports academies in developing young athletes, which it has achieved through a comprehensive curriculum focused on academic and athletic achievement. Several of the young graduates are now set to pursue their sporting careers and further studies at prestigious universities around the world.